Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Brioni vs Samuelsohn- a look inside

Continuing the look at these two dinner jackets, we start to look at the guts of the coats, the interior workings, starting with the hem felling.

The hem has been blind stitched by hand (top left) using a very fine thread- thick wools are easy to do but a fine, tight silk is quite a challenge so I am impressed wit he skill of their hands. In a previous post we saw there was some sort of pick stitching running along the hem of the Brioni coat; now that it’s open we can see that there is a Silesia hem interfacing that has been held in place by a Columbia stitch (upper right).

The hem interfacing is a fusible non-woven (the light grey creeping over the edge of the hem) and the hem has been blindstitched by machine.

The importance of the hem interfacing is that the Silesia will never delaminate (never come unglued) from dry cleaning or steaming which, though rare now, is a risk with the fusible interfacing. The structural difference between stitching the hem by hand or by machine is so minuscule that, in the long run, I don’t think it matters to the quality. I will make a distinction between quality and craftsmanship, however.

Compared to a fused garment, whose hem is usually only tacked in place along the seams and will definitely sag when steamed or cleaned, or just with wearing in humid climate, there is a definite difference in quality between that and a felled hem like the two above. So between the fused garment and a Samuelsohn there is a huge, measurable difference in quality and the extra money is definitely worth the investment; between the Samuelsohn and the Brioni, however, there is a nuanced level of superior craftsmanship- what you are paying for in the Brioni is no longer necessarily a longer-lasting or more comfortable garment than the Samuelsohn, but a level of craftsmanship which the Samuelsohn does not have. If you area an oil sheikh for whom money is no object, the Brioni is the clear choice because of the skill and craftsmanship required to make it; if you are on a budget and are just looking for reliability (a Chevrolet, perhaps) then in your case it may not be worth the extra money to go up from Sammy to Brioni. Nuance.




Notice that all the edges are overlocked. Silk ravels a lot so this is absolutely a necessity; good wool won’t ravel as much so it is not required. The inlays at center back and the side seams are about 5/8” wide; if you were to gain weight and have this altered, assuming a smallest possible seam of ¼”, you could then gain ¾” at each seam, or a total of 2 ½” circumference

Curiously, the inlays are 7/8” wide. So by the same math you could gain 1 ¼” at each seam, or a total of 3 ¾”.


At this point I have a good look at the finishing of the lining in the Brioni and it is clear that the little pickstitch along the edge of the facing seam is not decorative- the lining has all been inserted by hand, though I would need a good macro lens to show it clearly. Which brings me to the construction of the facing and the lining.


The silk has been fused with a soft non-woven interfacing to prevent some of the seams and stitching underneath from showing through. They have taken the step of covering the canvas of the lapel with flannel so that the canvas and the inner works don’t leave marks, but this is not enough to cover the edge seams, which are graded to avoid thickness. In the photo on the left you can see the lining peeled back, then the satin facing, and about one inch of the flannel extending past the silk, then the felt covering the chest piece. The silk has been tacked to the canvas using a long hand basting. The way that this has been constructed is a clue that the facing has been made in the traditional way, that is to say, it has been drawn on by hand, though this will be confirmed once the facing is open completely.

The facing has been felled to the canvas by blindstitch machine. Again, structurally equivalent to doing it by hand (it is no more secure by hand than by machine) but it is an indicator of the process of building the inside. The lining was joined to the facing by machine, then the pockets made on the lining, then the facings were attached to the jacket fronts. After turning the edges, the facing is basted in place, along the edges and then along the lining seam, which permits this machine felling from the inside. The same could have been done (though by hand) on the Brioni, but we are about to find out it was not.

Facing felling

On the left is the gorge seam, and you can see that the canvas has been covered by flannel. You can also see that the gorge seam allowance has been cross-stitched by hand, but it is curious that it is the collar seam allowance and not the facing. This very important detail will be covered in a later post.

Faciing underside


Though it is not very clear in the photo, peeling back the flannel we can see the pad stitching has been done by machine. It is irregular, telling me that they did not use the automated machine, perhaps because it is a peak lapel and they felt the need to vary the stitching through the peak. It’s what I would do.

The neat rows of stitching indicate that this was done on the automated pad stitching machine.

lapel padding

At this point I can tell for sure that the Brioni facing and collar have been drawn on by hand, whereas the Samuelsohn, like almost all other manufactured suits (including Oxxford) has been done by machine. This will require a whole post unto itself.


Charles said...

I am really enjoying these posts. Very instructive and informative from my point of view as a wearer of tailored items.

BCN - UNIQUE designer patterns said...

Very interesting all these posts about the differences between the jackets. thanks Jeffery, I'll keep reading.



Anonymous said...

Having a good portion of my wardrobe from Samuelsohn's mtm program, it's heartening to see the quality that goes into the pieces. The craftsmanship may not be Brioni or Saville Row, but well worth the investment indeed if that's the best one can afford in that stage of their life.

R. Jeffery Diduch said...

I'm glad you all enjoy these posts; I will keep doing this sort of thing as I get my hands on interesting garments.


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